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Residents crowd Board of Ed Meeting over “Letter to the editor” | Parsippany Focus
Sunday, June 23, 2024
HomeLocal NewsResidents crowd Board of Ed Meeting over "Letter to the editor"

Residents crowd Board of Ed Meeting over “Letter to the editor”

PARSIPPANY — The Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education meeting was packed on Tuesday, March 13 with a number of concerned residents over a “Letter to the Editor” published in Tap Into Parsippany, written by Parsippany resident Nancy Choffo.  The letter published on Monday, March 12 and was titled “Parsippany Now Appears to Be a Sanctuary City.”

Ms. Choffo is a One to One Paraprofessional at Intervale School.

In her letter, she states “Just last year, Parsippany was recognized as one of the safest towns in New Jersey.  Now, it is a safe haven for criminal illegal aliens. What a difference a few months can make!”

Resident Adam McGovern, stated “I want so speak in relation to a Letter to the Editor on Tap Into Parsippany from Nancy Choffo, who I understand is an employee of the schools. In recent meetings your position was stated clearly from Dr. Sargent, about immigration issues, which is no letting in ICE agents without judicial warrant, and that schools are in general area a safe zone, and i think it needs to be reaffirmed that of this public statement from a Parsippany school employee, although I think she was speaking as a private citizen. I feel it is important for the educational body of our town not be associated with erroneous information especially when that information did cause alarm. The Mayor of course, as stated in the letter, did not declare Parsippany as a “Sanctuary City” or any thing of the kind. That would take a vote of the Town Council, and no doubt a lengthy debate. What Ms. Choffo, is seems to referring to is not a “Sanctuary City” policy but the so called 287G program which deputizes local law enforcers as immigration agents. This is an opt-in since the 10th amendment of the Constitution prescribes federal functions being imposed on state or local jurisdictions. It’s usually done on a county, and not a town level anyway, and Hudson County for one just ended their 287G program and a very few in the state. In previous meetings you’ve stated clearly that you wanted a safe and welcoming environment for all students, and it’s also been expressed to me that you don’t want to draw unwelcome attention from extremists to more peaceful, diverse town. And that makes sense because our town is not being flooded by criminals, as, in the letter, but it’s largely composed of people from all over the world. Simply being here without documentation is a civil, not criminal offense and ICE arrested people with no criminal record of going up by a factor of 10 since 2016. And this fosters a climate that’s intimidating to everyone, I think. I mean, I’ve expressed to the board before that I think that we as a very diverse and peaceful town, you know, should get in front of this issue, not worry about the risks of drawing attention to ourselves because the spotlights now put on this issue, by somebody in your own employ whose position I believe is misinformed and exaggerated. So I’d like to hear whether you as a board will be aligned with that or not.”

Resident Beatrice Marquez then stated  “I was very very upset by the letter that went into Tap Into Parsippany, and I would like to use it as an opportunity for our community to start a dialogue about Sanctuary Cities, and about 287G, because my biggest concern was not that she wrote the letter, or even a member of the associate board, I didn’t like the inflammatory language. I think these are the kinds of issues that need to be addressed with facts and figures from people from both sides, from both sides, but less say it real information from people who are authorities on the subject because as someone who came to this country legally on Cuban American and you know, the US wanted lots of here I am here and I did suffer seriously discrimination because I was part of the ruling class. I happened to look white. If I were a slightly different color it would have been really hard for me.”

Dr. Rozella Clyde stated “I went to draw your attention to the young people in this school district because we’ve heard a lot information about a lot of attitudes concerning the inflammatory nature of the letter that was written by an employee, but that letter had been read by young people. I would really request you consider very, very seriously the impact that these kinds of ideas in this kind of rederick has on the young people in school districts. We had seen the students, the young people from Florida, step forward and assume leadership positions establish shape at sharing their anger fear hurt over what happened within their school district. The young people in Parsippany school districts have also been hurt by these attitudes and these ideas and I think that the ripple effect that it’s going to have across the families, young people cannot be ignored while we were talking about first amendment rights. We also have to think of the right of every single child to be safe and live in a safe environment, be educated in a safe and neutral environment and be welcomed and encouraged them very, very encouraged by your mission statement is it is a beautiful mission statement. If you really mean that mission statement, then action has to be taken to protect the young people and to let them know that the adults in the room are aware of the nature of these comments and that they will be protected.”

“I’m shocked that today in 2018 on reading something, this kind of letter I just wanted to, it’s just so upsetting or just can’t believe it or you went to school here and this is just upsetting to think that the board of education employee would write something like that. I’m the child of immigrants or somebody else here, Cuban, Jamaican, and my parents, when they came here to rent an apartment, they were told no and they had to go to court and they won. And I got to live here in this city. I’d love Parsippany and I, it just breaks my heart to think that this is the way, the type of letter that’s in the paper and that people will feel that way. And now children are going to be scared. And I just hope that the board of education does not feel this way and doesn’t advocate those feelings and that will work to make sure that children are taught to be accepting and loving and not be hateful,” said Mayra Yonebayski.

After the public session, Board of Education President Frank Neglia said “Let me start out by first saying our employees have the right to express themselves in the various public venues that are available to them. When they speak, they do not speak for this board. They speak as private citizens for themselves. The president of the board of education is the only individual authorized to speak on behalf of the board and the superintendent speaks on behalf of the district. We reiterate that the district and board remain committed to the safety, equality and welfare of all our children. Nothing is more important than the folks at this table.”

“To follow up, additionally the views presented by the writer do not represent the views of the board or of the district, as you’ve seen through a budget presentation we have not only the mission statement language, and which strategic planning goals that speech to developing compassionate learners and city minded students. I’ve been present numerous cultural days where students are celebrating your heritage with their friends and teachers. We value diversity and enriches our lives,” said Parsippany-Troy Hills School Superintendent Dr. Barbara Sergent.

Editor’s Note: Parsippany Focus did not receive this letter to the editor dated March 12, 2018, from Ms. Choffo. It is our policy to publish all letters of verified writers, with a disclaimer: All information contained in a letter to the editor, is the opinion of the writer and not the opinion of Parsippany Focus. We have on occasion received articles to publish from Ms. Choffo, in fact this week we received a press release regarding another matter, which was published on www.parsipanyfocus.com. 

 

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Frank L. Cahill
Frank L. Cahill
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President of Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town and Chairman of Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board.
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